The Revenue would obtain an order from a Circuit Judge requiring production of documents within a specified time period, normally ten days. This adopts, with few changes, measures initially set out in the November 1999 technical note ‘Power to combat serious tax fraud’.
The intended recipient would have notice of the Revenue’s intention to apply for the order, and the right to make representations at the hearing unless this prejudiced the investigation. Professional privilege exempting documents held by lawyers would be extended to cover all documents irrespective of who holds them.
The notes accompanying the Bill state that the ‘raid’ procedures are commercially cumbersome for the Revenue and embarrassing for those raided. I agree entirely, and provided the new procedures are properly controlled they should save costs and inconvenience for all. I would hope that the powers are only used when necessary and that the documentation requested is as specific as possible. If the powers are not abused then they will be very welcome.
Brian Baker is National Director of Revenue Enquiries at HLB Kidsons